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Intel NUC 12 Extreme (Dragon Canyon) Review

Rating: 7.5.

It may come as a surprise to you that this Intel NUC 12 Extreme packs a fully fledged Core i9-12900 desktop CPU as that marks a change from the laptop Core i9-9980HK processor that Luke encountered in his review of the Ghost Canyon NUC 9 Extreme. Then again, if you are familiar with Mega-Epic NUC mod performed by James where he installed a full custom loop cooling system, it is quite likely that nothing could surprise you ever again.

Watch video via Vimeo (below) or over on YouTube at 2160p HERE

Features

  • 12th Generation Intel Core i9-12900 8P+8E (65W)
  • The CPU is pre-installed featuring the LGA 1700 Socket vPro platform
  • Intel UHD Graphics 770 (32EU)
  • 32 GB Dual-Channel DDR4-3200 MHz memory (supports up to 64GB)
  • Support for PCIe Gen5 x16 Graphics Cards
  • Backwards compatible with PCIe Gen4 and Gen3
  • Support for up to 3 PCIe Gen4 M.2 SSDs
  • 2x PCIe Gen4 from PCH, 1x PCIe Gen4 from the CPU.
  • User Addressable RGB lighting around the system and front logo plate. The logo plate itself is also swappable should an end-user or channel customer like to personalize the system further.
  • Two Thunderbolt 4 (USB 4.0 Type-C) ports
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 + Bluetooth v5.1
  • Intel i225-LM 2.5gbe Network adapter
  • 10Gbe Network based on Marvell AQtion AQC113
  • Triple 92mm fans in roof
  • Power supply FSP SFX 650W Gold model FSP650-57SAB-A.

The barebones NUC kit consists of a case, power supply and compute unit and does not include a graphics card, memory or storage. The big change in Dragon Canyon is the move to a hybrid CPU that combines Performance and Efficient Cores and which you can learn about in our launch review of the Core i9-12900K HERE.

As you would expect in such a small form factor, the Core i9-12900 CPU uses significantly less power than the K version as a means of reducing the level of heat that need to be exhausted. While the nominal CPU power limit is 65W Intel offers you a number of options in its NUC Software Studio. The four power modes are:

Low Power PL1 35W, PL2 109W, Tau 28s
Balanced PL1 55W, PL2 109W, Tau 28s
Max Performance PL1 65W, PL2 109W, Tau 28s
Custom PL1 up to 65W, PL2 up to 221W, Tau up to 28s

 

At the heart of the Dragon Canyon Barebones system we have the new 12th Gen Eden Bay Compute Element that supports a Socketed 12th Gen CPU with Hybrid P- and E-cores. In addition we have a number of other features that are a significant change over the previous 11th Gen Beast Canyon NUC.

  • Dragon Canyon supports up a graphics card up to 12-inches in length with a PCIe Gen 5 interface where previously it was Gen 4.
  • There is support for up to three PCIe Gen 4 M.2 SSDs and support for SATA SSDs has been dropped.
  • Dragon Canyon has Dual Ethernet with 10Gbit Aquantia and 2.5Gbit Intel

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